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VIP at Home: The Blakes



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BY SADIE FOWLER || PHOTOS BY ERIN KOSKO

With a nickname like “Mr. OCD” it’s no wonder Ben Blake’s home, which he shares with his lovely wife Teri and their two children, is the picture of perfection. It’s a place where friends gather for fun and relaxation; the home’s outdoor living space can easily be described as an oasis where the landscaping nothing short of amazing.

The home, inside and out, has deliberately been created to keep the focus on the people who gather there and their experience.

“We wanted our home to feel like a retreat so to speak, where we did not feel the need to go anywhere else,” Ben said.

Organization, planning and team work were some of the things that made the process of building the family’s fourth home such a success. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ben has a great appreciation for art and design and is an expert in the business of building homes. Ben has served as John Floyd’s right hand man at Ole South Properties for as long as he can remember.

“Proper planning and a good design team were crucial in executing the finished product of our dream home, our home sweet home,” said Ben. “Having a plan is the biggest advice I could give someone who is approaching this type of process. Off the cuff doesn’t work so well.”

Ben and Teri, who have been married 22 years, met while Teri was attending Middle Tennessee State University. Ben, a Mississippi native, was in Murfreesboro working for the summer when they met, and soon enough he fell in love with her as well as the city of Murfreesboro. He decided to stay for good and the couple began planting deep roots.

Teri is a school psychologist for Rutherford County. The Blakes have two beautiful children, Mary Jan, age 16, and Benjamin, age 12, both whom attend Blackman, a well sought-after school system that backs up to their neighborhood at Puckett Station. Mary Jan is a cheerleader and Benjamin plays football and golf. And one can’t forget Elvis, the family’s three-year-old bulldog — the real king of the house.

To say Ben is grateful for making the decision to stay in Murfreesboro beyond the summer job commitments all those years ago would be an understatement.

“Besides my family, Ole South is everything to me,” Blake said. “If it wasn’t for John Floyd we wouldn’t have our dream home and I wouldn’t be in Murfreesboro. Because he influenced me in coming here, it ultimately led me to meet Teri and have the most awesome life and children we have.”

The Blakes are self-described routine people who stay busy with school, work, church and their daily grind, which is why building their fourth home to be one that was both super functional and a place they loved to be were “musts.”

“We wanted our home to function according to our needs,” Blake said. “It’s good to have a vision for a home for years to come. We knew going into this that we will only have the kids for a few more years before they go off to college so we wanted to be able to make the most out of these next few years. Plus, we wanted to create a space where the kids will feel comfortable returning home.”

The Blakes have now lived in four homes, and Ben jokes when he says the one thing all four have in common is a covered porch, which adds dimension to a home and can be used almost year-round.

“We enjoy all parts of our home, but what we like most is the flow,” he said. “Our hub is the kitchen. Our world starts and stops around the island … We love it here, and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Prior to the move to Puckett Station, the Blakes had lived in Indian Hills for 12 years. They were close to family and friends and the decision to move to Puckett Station was one that was both difficult and well-thought out.

“We thought long and hard about it, and at the end of the day, we just ended up bringing our friends to Puckett Station with us,” laughed Ben.

Ben credits a great team including interior designer Kristen Finney for helping execute the family’s vision for the home, which is considered to be a French Acadian style. Being from the South, they wanted the home to have a southern feel to it, similar to houses one would find in New Orleans or Ben’s home state of Mississippi.

Many of the pieces that make up the home’s décor literally came from his home state. “For example, we used brick from my grandparent’s old home outside of Jackson, Mississippi, and we also used some bricks from my dad’s landscape studio in Hattiesburg, Mississippi,” Ben said.

The bricks to which Blake refers can be found throughout the home and provide the family with a sense of comfort in knowing that they have a piece of their Mississippi family with them in Tennessee.

Vision and planning made the process of building the home quite smooth and in February of 2015 the Blakes moved into their haven, which is marked by warm and classic colors, lots of texture and a blend of the old and the new.

“We have continued making improvements and changes since we moved in,” he said. “I add little features to the landscape each year that add to our original look, but for the most part, the vision of our home was in the original plan — it just takes time to get the look just right.”

The Puckett Station home is indeed the Blake’s dream spot as gives them the perfect vehicle to do what they most enjoy — entertain, cook, listen to music and hang out with friends and family on the back porch. Ben said they even chose a smaller lot to give the backyard space a cozier and more intimate feel.

“Our home is especially popular during football season while we spend time at our outdoor pavilion in front of a fire cheering on our teams,” Ben said. “Our goal was to build a house that was inviting to all who walk in the door, plus one that functioned well for everyday life.”

The Blakes absolutely love the friends they have in Puckett Station and call it the true definition of an inviting neighborhood.

“Our neighbors and family mean more to us than the house,” he said. “We love the location, people, kids and pets. Once you come home here, there’s really no reason to leave.

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